NewsOn Special Assignment


Rebuilding Glacier National Parks' Sperry Chalet takes a village

The historic building burned in a 2017 wildfire
Sperry Chalet Rebuild.jpg
Sperry Chalet
Sperry Chalet
Sperry Chalet Inside
Sperry Chalet Fire
Posted at 10:41 AM, Sep 18, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-18 16:20:41-04

GLACIER NATIONAL PARK — The second phase of reconstruction efforts of Glacier National Park’s historic Sperry Chalet are almost complete after a 2017 wildfire nearly burned the iconic structure to the ground.

Tucked away in the west side of Glacier National Park – and sitting at 6,000 feet – just getting to the Chalet requires a 12 mile round trip hike.

According to the park, the Chalet was built in 1913 by James J Hill and was part of the Great Northern Railway buildings erected in Glacier National Park

Crew members like Connor Sims say they are honored to be working on such a historic project. “I was actually one of the first volunteers once I heard that Dick Anderson had gotten this job.”

Sims travels from Helena every other week to hike the six miles up to the chalet and put in 12 hours daily for restoration efforts.

When he’s not working, he and his crew stay in these small tents – but sometimes cabin fever sets in, "I think some people do. But my crew is pretty solid, and we all get along with each other and we make the best of it.”

Sperry Chalet Rebuild.jpg
The second phase of the rebuilding of the historic Sperry Chalet is nearly complete.

Site supervisor TJ Lashley says the project is not open to creative interpretation and the builders must stay as close to the original design of the Sperry Chalet.

“The field verifications are kind of fun. Making sure you get everything put back in its original place,” Lashley told MTN News. “It’s one of the cool parts of working in the park and on a historical preservation project.”

Once complete, visitors have access to 18 rooms, one of which is handicap accessible. A total of 53 guests can stay in the chalet at one time, with a dining hall a few hundred feet away.

The only update to the original building will be the stairs, which will be brought up to current building code standards.

MTN News recently was allowed inside the Sperry Chalet to check out the progress crews have made. One interesting note is that most of the wood used in one of the rooms we checked out was burned in the Sprague fire.

The individual rooms have been laid out during the second phase of the project, which is on schedule to be completed by October. The Sperry Chalet itself will be open to visitors next summer.

The Glacier National Park Conservancy is still accepting donations of money and supplies to help finish the project.